Tennessee Pharmacists Association

Masthead_for_webpageMARCH 3, 2017

Tyler JonesA Firsthand Look at How TPA Works for Pharmacy
APPE Student Rotation, August 2016

by Tyler Jones, 2017 PharmD Candidate
ETSU Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy

I’m very thankful that I was given the opportunity to spend the past month working with Dr. Micah Cost, Dr. Lucy Adkins, Dr. Aaron Garst, and the staff at the Tennessee Pharmacists Association. I was able to see firsthand how they are working to further the profession of pharmacy in the state of Tennessee, how I can stay involved as a new practitioner when I earn my PharmD in the spring, and how I can advocate for the profession in my town through interactions with my local representatives and patients.

Being a member of the Tennessee Society of Student Pharmacists (TSSP), TPA’s student society, has helped me to connect with student pharmacists who are passionate about state politics in Tennessee. More recently, I’ve been privileged to serve on TSSP’s Executive Committee as the Member-at-Large from ETSU Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy and work with leaders from other schools to plan events, increase outreach to student pharmacists and pharmacists around the area, and hone my leadership and speaking skills. When I learned about the TPA internship that I could do during my P4 year of school, I knew that I had to apply.

“Seeing TPA’s trailblazing efforts to enhance the practice of community pharmacy… is just one of the many reasons I intend to stay involved in the organization after I graduate. “

I’ve worked in community pharmacy for the past 8 years and intend to pursue a career in the community after graduation. Seeing TPA’s trailblazing efforts to enhance the practice of community pharmacy over the past month is just one of the many reasons I intend to stay involved in the organization after I graduate. Dr. Aaron Garst, the Executive Fellow at TPA, is currently working to facilitate the implementation of a Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network throughout Tennessee, which will hopefully provide a means of reimbursement to pharmacists and pharmacies who provide high-quality care to their patient populations in accordance with the new quality-based models of insurance reimbursement. Chronic disease state management, quality-based outcomes, and cost-avoidance metrics are areas in which I see community pharmacists playing a significant role going forward, and being able to work with Dr. Garst has been an excellent learning opportunity.

“TPA gives us… the tools to reach out to legislators when bills impacting our profession are being discussed, and by using these tools, we use TPA as a megaphone to amplify our voices and bring about real change…”

It’s a very exciting time to be a pharmacist in Tennessee. The 2016 legislative season saw the passage of a bill that allows pharmacists to write for and dispense naloxone, a drug used to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses, under a collaborative practice agreement. Tennessee, especially northeast Tennessee, where I am from, has been hit hard by the drug abuse epidemic over the past 10 years. The naloxone collaborative practice bill enables pharmacists to get naloxone into the hands of law enforcement, teachers, family members of people at risk for accidental overdoses, and concerned members of the community. This enhanced access to naloxone gives pharmacists a much-needed tool to save lives and combat the opioid epidemic in Tennessee. I was able to attend a meeting with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health related to the bill and its implementation. While this bill will impact every pharmacist in Tennessee, not everyone is able to discuss it with those who helped draft the bill, and if I had not applied for the Tennessee Pharmacists Association rotation, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to either.

A good family friend told me last year that I either needed to get involved in politics or get out of business, and I believe that this is especially relevant to pharmacy and healthcare as a whole. Most of our leaders in Nashville and Washington are not pharmacists; it is our duty as student pharmacists and pharmacists to get involved. TPA gives us the ability and the tools to reach out to legislators when bills impacting our profession are being discussed, and by using these tools, we use TPA as a megaphone to amplify our voices and bring about real change for our patients, our profession, and Tennessee.